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Nerdy & Geeky Stuff 🖖🤓

Nerdy Stuff

December 2023 Redesign

Previous update was on February 3rd in 2014. Behind the scenes I've been working on different designs in different publishing solutions. Also, I didn't transfer much old content, so if you're looking for older content, please check the links (button) to the Wayback Machine from the Redesign section of my About Page.

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This Blog Has Two Main Parts:

  1. Articles about technologies, software and hardware, that I use, care about or research and learn about are all sorted in this Nerd Category.

  2. Articles about the Bible, different Bible translations, Christian books, Bible Study Software and so on, are all sorted in this Hallelujah Category.

(Just click to filter by category. Or scroll down to search my blog.)

nerd Blog Post(s):

Apple Logo and more

Why Apple macOS, or Why Not?

In later years, Apple products, including the Mac (or Macintosh computers) has gained in popularity and market share, and I even hear stories of how some people buy and bring their MacBooks, even when it's not recommended for their tasks or by their computer departements. But why would a geek like me choose, or even prefer, running on macOS?

My Background

I've been using Mac and macOS since long before it became popular (again). Back in the 80's and 90's, I started out using some Swedish computers (DTC2 and ABC800), and then a CP/M computer (NorthStar Advantage). Then we (me and my brother) started using IBM PC 8088 (XT) and later 80286 (AT), running DOS. We also got our hand on a Commodore 64, and later also a Commode 128.

I kept using PC using DOS and later on Windows for some years, but in the early 90's I got myself an Amiga 3000, and I also added a hardware Macintosh emulator, so I ran both Amiga OS and MacOS Classic for some years. In the latter part of the nineties school and work brought me back to using a PC. (If the best technology always won, there's no doubt in my mind that the Commodore Amiga was superior in many ways and would have reigned supreme.) But I didn't stay long with Windows, though using it at work, I was running Linux and learning UNIX and Linux stuff. And in 1999 I started working for a company running on Sun Solaris, so from then on I was no longer working with Microsoft Windows. (I did take 4 MCP exams while working with Windows NT and such, so I almost completed my MCSE degree before jumping ship.)

Then in 2000 I started working for the first company to go all in on and for Linux in Norway, so I started working full time in GNU/Linux, and early on I was part of establishing the training departement. So I was developing course material, and teaching Linux/UNIX stuff (basics, system administration, shell programming and quite a few related topics).

After some years Apple approached our company. Steve Jobs had returned from NeXT, and Mac OS X was released, and it based on the Darwin BSD code. So they asked if we might be interested in teaching Mac OS X classes. And we were, so we got all the certifications and everything. That's when I switched to using a Mac instead of (Debian) GNU/Linux as my daily operating system. I kept a dual boot installation for a while, I believe it was YellowDog Linux back in those PowerPC days of the Mac.

The Hardware

The hardware of my Macs has been amazing all these years. I had a PowerBook G4 Pro or something like that back then, and in 20+ years, I haven't had more that 2 or 3 serious issues. One had a broken DVD-ROM, so the switched mainboard (it was on AppleCare). And in later years, the only issue of poor hardware quality I experienced, was the butterfly switch keyboards of the last generation Intel MacBook Pro. (I actually liked typing on it, but it broke.) Otherwise the battery life of all the generations of PowerBook and MacBook Pro's I've used, has been amazing, compared to the PC's I've had and worked with.

The Software

When it comes to the operating system, the main software, though it is based on Darwin BSD (UNIX) and quite stable. I would actually prefer working on a classic UNIX or Linux X (or Wayland) setup, with all the available Window Managers to choose from. And while I am quite comfortable today working in macOS (or Mac OS X, as it was called earlier), I would prefer a tiling window manager like i3, or even a classic lightweight Desktop Environment like XFCE.

The thing is, on macOS I need to get quite a few 3rd party apps and addons to make it work well. This would be apps like Yoink, Magnet, Unclutter, Bartender, Default Folder X and Al Dente. And also file managers like Nimble Commander and Forklift (these two might be considered competitors, but I use them for different purposes). If you come from the world of Free and OpenSource software, switching to macOS might cause you to discover how the Mac crowd is used to paying for most apps. Luckily, the great iTerm2 terminal emulator is free.

Then Why macOS?!?

So, I do feel comfortable working daily in macOS, and it's stable and good enough. But I would actually prefer working in one of the main Linux or BSD setups. Then why do I stick with macOS?

The answer is simple: There's a few programs, apps, I absolutely would not like to part with. First and foremost, I'll mention:

Nisus Writer Pro Logo

Nisus Writer Pro! Or even the cheaper Express version. These are both great. And for my part, this is how I stumbled upon this gem:

I was about to write a school paper, and as I started out, I was really frustrated with Microsoft Word (which was also much worse for Mac than Windows back then). And OpenOffice and NeoOffice felt just as bad or worse. So I tried some alternatives, like Mariner Write and Bean and a few more. And Apple's TextEdit didn't really offer what I needed. And I can't recall if Pages was out. I think it was, but I didn't really like writing in it. In fact, I didn't like any Word Processors, at all!

Then I found Nisus, I downloaded the Express demo version and started writing. And a few hours later, I realized I was done writing, without being annoyed by the the word processor at all. The app had stayed out of my way, letting me focus on writing. And when I needed a bit of styling and adjusting of margins and what not, it was super easy and intuitive. I actually really liked a word processor, for the first time! For the full story and my take on Word Processors, please read my post "Best Word Processor for the Mac?"

Other apps I would really miss if I moved to Linux as my daily operating system, would be iA Writer, Mellel, MailMate, TwistedWave and BBEdit. It's also nice to have the Affinity Creativity Suite available, though there are some decent alternatives for most of this on Linux. I've also grown fond of the Acorn image editor, the Pixelmator Pro image editor, and also a nifty little app called Image Tricks Pro. (I use all of these, they all have their strengths and weaknesses.)

A Text Editor?

Stick with macOS because of a text editor, you say? Really? Well, it's hard to explain. Historically I've been using both Vi(m) and Emacs. (They're both powerful and really nice in many ways. I actually edited my emacs config in Vi ...) When moving to the Mac, I liked to get a GUI editor that integrated better into OS X, so I used TextMate for some years. Then I discovered Sublime Text, which works well on both Linux, Windows and macOS. Both these editors is really nice, and in Sublime I was happy to use their Vi mode. (I don't recall if it was Viper or a different version.)

bbedit-130sq

But then, at some point, I gave BBEdit another try. And despite BBEdit not having a Vi mode, there's a lot of other benefits. First and foremost, it's extremely stable and perfomant. It handles huge files without any issues, whatsoever. And compared to Sublime Text (and other popular editors, I tried a lot), BBEdit does not use horizontal tabs, and I think it's much easier not to loose track of files and tabs. It also has powerful search and replace (with regex and more), lots of programming language writing aids and also something called Unix Worksheet, which is really cool: Type a command, then Ctrl+Enter, and get the result of the command directly in the buffer.

All in all, I wouldn't switch to macOS because of a text editor, but BBEdit would be something I'd really miss if I switched away from macOS.

Summary ... or Conclusion

To summarize it all, my main reason for sticking with macOS as my daily operating system, is nice programs, apps I'd prefer to keep using. And the most important of these is the one and only, Nisus Writer Pro.

What operating system should you choose? What's best?

My answer is two-fold:

  1. If you are able to learn and dig, find help online (IRC, web and Discord etc.) and do like to tinker and customize and have all options available, you probably should focus on GNU/Linux or one of the BSD flavors. Escpecially if you like stuff being both free, as in no cost, and free as in freedom – having available source code you can modify and use freely.
  2. I you're leaning on getting help from others, you should choose whatever this friend(s) of your recommend, as it's more fun helping a friend when he or she uses an operating system I personally like working with. Both Windows and macOS can work well enough. Personally, I know Windows pretty well, but after all these years, I still don't like it. Both Windows and macOS ecosystems require more paid apps to work well, compared to the world of Linux/BSD.
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